Monday, December 31, 2012

Reflections. . . .

2012 is coming to its end.  It has been a long year, at least for me.  As we reflect on 2012 there are many things that come to mind.

First - thankfulness.  I am very thankful that my husband has a job (and has had one for many years) that can feed our family.  I complain about not being able to save for retirement or the kids college - but I am so very thankful that we can afford to feed them and put a roof over their heads.  That is so much more than many others can say.

Second - I think of the two family members we have added to our household - Ninja and Olive.  Olive may be a needy dog at times - but she loves us and we love her.  I am so thankful she is our dog.  Ninja - don't know where he would be if our neighbor hadn't found him in the parking lot of a pharmacy and brought him home.  He is such a loving cat - kind of like a dog in a cats body.  I am so glad he is in our family.

Third, I am thankful that my Lucy is getting better.  I am so thankful.  She may never be where she was on October 17, 2011, but she is getting better.  Our kids and their health are gifts to us that I will never take for granted.

In 2012 I finally did something I have wanted to do for a while - try out homeschooling.  It is a lot of work - but the best thing I have ever done as a parent.  Homeschooling Gabe has allowed us to connect in a way we hadn't before.  Every parent of a middle schooler should do this.  Great bonding experience!  

I think of all the things that have happened in the last year.  I think of the terrible things that have happened here in America. . . . shootings in a theater. . . .shootings in a mall. . . shooting fire men as the come to fight a house fire. . . and the horrible shooting in an elementary school.  I can't help but look at these things and feel sad for the way this country is heading.  I worry what the world will be like for my children, and their children.

Along with that I look around me every time I go out and I see the way people are.  People are so hateful to each other.  Screaming nasty things at each other.  Flipping people off for no reason.  Not caring about anyone but themselves.  I know when I was a child neighbor looked out for neighbor.  I remember that.  People actually cared about each other - now it seems people only care about themselves - oh - and money (or the appearance of money).  I am trying to tell myself that this is just Florida - but it is hard when you hear about the stuff in the above paragraph on the news. . . .

This was the first full calender year with out Grandma - and I survived it.  I miss her - tremendously - but I survived it.  This was the first summer I stayed at Grandma's house without her.  What a privilege it was to be there.  Kind of scary at times, but I am so thankful we were able to do it.

This was our first full year living in Florida.  I can say - I don't like it any more than I did in my first few months of grief down here - but we are doing our best to be happy here.  This is where our home is and we have to make our house the home we want and ignore everything around us.

This year I realized some people I cared about greatly really don't reciprocate those feelings.  I realized that someone I very much enjoyed the company of felt nothing but contempt for me.  I was saddened by that for I very much liked this person.  I realized that many of the people I enjoyed the company of in the past and miss spending time with really don't miss my company at all, I am nothing to them . . . . and I have become OK with that.  Family members that I didn't think cared our thought of me actually do, while at the same time others who I put a lot of time and energy into could care less.  I have also realized that I have my own family now, the five other people who live in this house, and they need to be my focus.  Also,  I do have some great friends from the past that I miss - and I hope this coming year to focus on those relationships more. 

2012 was survived by most. . . despite "super storms" and the end of the Mayan calender. . . despite the hatred from a heated election and sick people targeting our babies in their school. . . .2012 is almost over and we can see 2013 on the horizon.  I look at 2013 with excitement.  It can bring anything.  Despite things like "fiscal cliffs" and anger of guns, more than likely we will all survive 2013 as well.  We might as well enjoy the ride while we are here!  I plan to do my best to enjoy it and look at what I have been blessed with - hope you do the same.

So - to everyone reading - happy 2013. . . .

"Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind ?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and old lang syne ?
For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we'll take a cup of kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.
And surely you’ll buy your pint cup !
and surely I’ll buy mine !
And we'll take a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.
We two have run about the slopes,
and picked the daisies fine ;
But we’ve wandered many a weary foot,
since auld lang syne.
We two have paddled in the stream,
from morning sun till dine;
But seas between us broad have roared
since auld lang syne.
And there’s a hand my trusty friend !
And give us a hand o’ thine !
And we’ll take a right good-will draught,
for auld lang syne."

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Dear world. . .

Hello.  My name is Angel.  I am college educated.  I am a thinker.  I enjoy learning new things and learning how things work.  I believe in science, and love to learn about science. . . and. . . I believe in God.

Yep.  I believe in God.

Recently, I have come across many people who vocalize that God can't be real.  They vocalize that people who believe in a God must be ignorant sheep followers.  They have to be people who believe in fairy tales.  There is no way sane, intelligent people can believe in God.  There is no proof that God exists, thus there must be no God.

I am saddened by this.  This is a very closed minded view.

Now, I must say I did not grow up going to church.  In fact, I don't remember my mother ever taking me to church.  I went with Grandma once or twice, but I am not a church goer.  Church just isn't right for me, and never has been.  I did, however, grow up with God being in my life.  As a child I gathered a lot of strength from God.  My child like "he will right all that is wrong, protect and love those who believe in him, and reward those who are good" really helped me deal with a less than ideal childhood.  I am thankful God was in my life during those times.

In college I had my doubts.  For a time I turned my back on God and vowed he didn't exist.  How could he exist with all the evil and bad in the world?  How could he allow so much suffering?  I admit it.  I doubted God.

As I grew I studied more.  I saw the world.  I saw things that could only be explained by the fact that we are not here alone. 

Now, I am not sure if I fully believe in the bible.  I do have some doubts there . . . but I know more than anything that there is a God and he loves us.  He cries with us when we cry.  He shares in our joys with us.  I also believe that the bad things that happen in this world are not "his will".  He did not want these things to happen, but he is with us in our sadness when they do.  I don't believe God can protect us from each other - our gift of free will has a dark side (if the bible is 100% true).

I do have questions and doubts, but I will say this, my belief in God doesn't mean I am ignorant.  I question everything and take a long time to form my opinion.  I am not a follower, I am a questioner.  My belief in God does not make me weak, in fact it is exactly the opposite, my belief in God makes me stronger.  I know that no matter what happens here on this Earth I will never be alone, for God is with me.  His love is with me - and with his love nothing else matters much. 

Thus, you can talk about me being "stupid" for what I believe in.  You can laugh when you see me reading the bible or you see my family say grace.  Personally, it doesn't matter what you think, all that matters is what God thinks.  

Monday, December 17, 2012

What, as Americans, are we OK with?

Gabe is in his room playing his new video game, and I have an hour before I have to pick the girls up from the bus so I decided to turn on the news.  We have avoided it as much as possible - most information I learned was from searching the internet news sites when the kids were not around.  Beyond just the total sadness of the loss of these 27 people (I include his mother here as well for she is also a victim), I hear people arguing over political stuff.  Personally it makes me ill. . . . But here are my thoughts on it.

I grew up in northern Michigan.  When I lived with my mom we almost always had a loaded gun by the door.  Guns were part of our livelihood.  My parents were avid hunters.  On top of that my parents also believed the government was out to get us and that we had a right to own any gun out there to protect ourselves from when the government decided to do what ever evil thing it was going to do.  We should own flame throwers, machine guns. . . anything out there.  Our second amendment right says we can have these guns and we should have them.

I am not anti-gun.  I see a need for them.  I see a use for them.  When this country was founded there was a good chance your survival depended on owning a gun.  There are still people today who use guns to keep their livelihood.  I see hunting as a good thing.  It keeps the animal population down and provides healthy meat for a family.  My children have held guns and target practiced.  I understand the draw of guns, but for me, personally, I don't see why people need to own some of these guns.  A gun to hunt with - I get it.  A gun for protection - OK - I could see that, but why do you need a gun that will do the kind of damage that some of these guns can do?

So here we are - as Americans - and we have to decide what we are OK with.  Are we OK with people owning the semi-automatic weapons that can carry 30 rounds in them?  Are we OK with people owning guns that really aren't going to be used for hunting?  We have the right to keep and bare arms - the constitution states that - but this constitution was written during a different time.  People were different.

I know, if someone wants to do this kind of damage they can do it without a gun.  Timothy McVeigh and Andrew Kehoe showed us that, but it is harder.  Requires more planning.  Requires more steps that might bring attention to this person and may prevent this from happening.  A gun makes it so easy, especially a gun that can demolish 27 people in a matter of minutes.  Mr. McVeigh and Mr. Kehoe had to put intensive planning into what they did, took a long time to gather all the material needed.  It took a while.  It wasn't a week or two. . . . it was a long time.  A gun makes a moment of anger so much easier to act upon. . .

We can toss blame everywhere here.  We can say the mother shouldn't have owned the guns (which, in all honestly, I kind of think that if you have an unstable person in the home and guns then those guns should be made unavailable to this person).  We can say the mother should have put this individual in an institution (which, the reality of it is there are very few institutions for these individuals.)  We can say "guns don't kill people, people kill people,"  all we want, but the reality of it is that 27 people were blown to pieces because a gun was put in the hands of this young man.  Would these people have been killed if he didn't have access to these guns?  We don't know, but we don know that 20 little kids and 7 adults are gone because this person did have access to these guns.

So I go back to my title of this blog, what are we, as Americans, OK with.  Do we see our right to own these guns as so important that we are going to keep selling them (there is no way we can remove the guns that are already sold and owned, but we could stop selling new guns in this country)?  I am not talking about hunting guns.  I am not talking about six shooter hand guns.  I am talking about weapons that go beyond basic self defense and hunting.  Is the freedom to continue selling these guns that important?  If your answer is "yes" then we, as Americans, have to be OK with things like this happening here in this country.  You can't have it both ways.  You can't still have these guns available (and from what I have read these guns were all purchased legally), and be irate when things like this happen.  We have to choose. . . .

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Trying to come to terms . . .

After the events of yesterday I think every parent in America is devastated.  What a heartbreaking thing to have happen.  20 children - most probably 5 or 6 years old - gone.  This was not a bus accident - tragic as it would be.  This was not a fire in a building or school.  This was not a middle or high school shooting conducted by these children's peers.  These sort of things, tragic as they may be, have a seed of understanding in them.  You can grasp a reason.  At this point, less than 24 hours later, what you know is that 20 kids and 7 people are dead because someone walked into a school with a gun and killed them.

As a parent it is impossible to understand how anyone could target children, especially children of that age.  How someone could specifically go to those classrooms full of young children and target them.  These were not children who happened to be at a movie where someone just started killing people.  These children were not at a mall shopping with their family and just happened to be killed because they were there.  These children didn't happen to be in a building that was being bombed.  These children were targeted.  5 and 6 year olds.

As a parent of four children, three of them in elementary school and two of them in kindergarten, you can empathize with these parents.  You can imagine what it would be like to get that call and go to the school to get your kids.  You can imagine what it would be like to be looking for your child at that school  - the panic - the joy over finding them.  And, you can imagine what those 20 families who went to that school to pick up their child, a child the same age as mine, and not find them.  Watching other children walk out with their parents, and continuing to look for yours.  Waiting - assuming their class will be coming out of the school soon - only to find out those children will not be coming home with you.  You can imagine the emptiness of their homes and their hearts.

I think most people just feel sick.  I know I do.  Nauseous actually.   I also feel grateful.  This school was about the same size as the school my girls attend.  Middle class neighborhood.  A place where you put your kids on the bus and send them off to school with the assumption that they will get off the bus that night.  I am so thankful this didn't happen at my children's school.  Thankful that I get another night to curl up with my kids and watch Christmas movies with them.  Thankful that we get to sit down and share dinner together.  Thankful that it is them and not me - because in all honestly this could have been any school in America.

This has happened before - senseless killing of young children.  May 18, 1927 Andrew Kehoe rigged the school in Bath, Michigan to blow up.  He was angry that the new school building caused his taxes to go up and now he was in danger of losing his home.  He was a member of the school board and did work on the school when it needed it - so he went in there and set up explosives to blow the school up.  38 people died and 58 more were injured - most of them young children.  October 2, 2006 Charles Roberts entered an Amish school and killed 5 girls and injured 5 more before killing himself.  So this isn't new - but it doesn't make it any easier to understand.

So here I sit, at 5:30 am trying to make sense of things that will never be made sense of.  I was woken up by my 10 year old over an hour ago because she was afraid.  Assuring my 10 year old that her school is safe and it won't happen there.  Listing to her cry as she says, "If they came into our school the first class they would get to after the office would be Sarah's!  I don't want Sarah to die."  Hearing my six year old say, "Mom, someone went in there and killed those little kids.  And this close to Christmas too."  Hearing my 12 year old say, "Why does anyone care.  This happened in Connecticut, this is their problem not ours,"  and trying to explain to him that as a fellow American and a fellow parent it is our problem.  These are our brothers and sisters in this country so when something this tragic happens to them it does - to a certain extent - happen to all of us.  Looking at all four of my kids, who drive me nuts sometimes, and knowing that having them here another night to trash my house and drive me nuts is such a pure gift.

My thoughts and prayers go out to those 20 families who weren't given that gift - as well as the families of the adults who were killed.  My thoughts and prayers go out to the people who walked into that building to try to save children and teachers only to be confronted with the reality of the situation.  My thoughts and prayers go out to the family of the gunman, who lost two family members through these tragic means.  Bad things happen to good people everyday. . . . but this even goes beyond that line.  This is just heartbreaking. 

Friday, December 7, 2012

Working at this school. . .

I have been a parent for a while now, and while I have not been head of the PTA involved I have always tried to help out where/when I could.  This year, with my youngest two in school I have more of a chance to help out.  Was helping once a week at the school lunch, until those bratty kids made me not want to do that anymore.  I have volunteered here and there.  I love working around kids and being around kids - I get a lot of joy out of being around kids - usually - but I can say at this point I never want to work in that school again.

Other blogs have pointed out that I don't feel like I fit down here.  I am who I am.  I don't wear make-up.  I am overweight.  I have yellow, crooked teeth.  I have been this way my entire life and have worked around kids most of my life as well.  Kids usually love me.  Kids who never go to anyone but their parents happily climb up in my lap.  I am a kid person. . .

Well - I think that went away somewhere.  Evelyn's class is awesome.  I have helped out in there a time or two, and the kids from there always say "Hi" to me when they see me on the street.  It is the twins class.  Those are the kids who pop out, "You're not my boss, you're Lucy's boss," when I work the lunch room.  And more recently - something I find very sad - Ellie is now being singled out and made fun of because I am her mom. 

I can take the bratty kids not listening to me.  I can take the, "Why do you have two rows of teeth?" question - it is childhood curiosity.  What I can't take is my kids being singled out and laughed at because I am their mother.  I never wanted that for my children.  I have been there and I know how much it hurts - but now as a parent it hurts even more to see my kids hurt because I am who I am. . . .

I am thankful my husband has a great job, but I really hope he finds another great job somewhere not here in the next year or two.  I don't like my kids growing up in this environment. . . .

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Look around and see the moment. . .

Yep, Angel has another rant spewing from her fingertips. . . . . my rant of the day - ipads/smartphones/cellphones.  You all know what I am talking about!  Those portable devices that allow us to be anywhere while we are texting/talking/web surfing. 

I love my internet as much as the next guy.  I get my hour or two in the am, and an hour or two in the pm.  I am embarrassed to admit the amount of time I spent stalking people on f-book, or window shopping at on-line Macy's to see if that dress I want is cheap enough for me to buy yet.  I have an addiction to the internet and I am trying to break it.  So maybe this rant is the pot calling the kettle black - who knows - but, when I am sitting down at the dinner table with my kids I am at that table with my kids.  When I am at the park with my kids I am actually there with my kids.  When I am driving my car I am actually looking around in traffic and driving. 

What kind of a society are we becoming where we HAVE to stay connected like this?  I have rules for my kids - no screen time between 8 and 8 (although technically Gabe's virtual school is screen time - I somehow don't count that - pot and kettle again).  During the day my kids have to be living.  Playing.  Interacting face to face with people.  We need these rules for adults too. 

At the park I see people constantly texting or playing a game or something on their i-something or other.  What the heck is so important?  Your kid is in front of you calling for you to see them do that flip they have done a thousand times - be a parent and watch them for Pete sake.  You created that kid - they didn't ask to be here - so give them some attention! 

If you are at the dinner table eating with your family and here a text bing - don't answer it!!!!  You are having dinner with your family!  Unless you are a doctor that needs to be contacted at a moments notice then nothing in the text is that important! 

If you are driving in traffic and you get a text - don't answer it!!!  Again - normal people will never have a text that requires endangering their live or the lives of people around them to check it. 

These stupid devices have made it way too easy to live your life with your head in a friggen screen.  They have made it too easy to check out on real life and the real world, and just walk around texting your buddies to see what they are doing or texting non-stop to see if that deal went through.  They have made it too easy to ignore our loved ones around us and become even crappier parents than we were before.  So - people- pull your head out of your - well - you know where it is and look around and take in what is around you.  You probably only have 80-ish years on this planet - do you want those 80 years spent texting/surfing or do you actually want to see your child do something amazing or see that beautiful sunset?

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Marriage. . . .my thoughts and opinions

Here is one of my two cent blogs.  This is just my opinion and for the most part I have kept this to myself, but I figured since family was already writing me off left and right for my opinion then I might as well put it out there. 

I am not an expert on marriage.  I am not a psychologist.  My own marriage isn't perfect, but we have been married for almost 16 years now, together for 18 so I think that says something.  On top of that, our marriage has neither been perfect nor easy.  It began with the death of three members of my husband's family.  Our marriage continued with poverty, under employment, infertility, miscarriages, depression from both sides, unhealthy pregnancies requiring almost a year of bedrest between the four of them, one person moving 1400 miles away for a job while the other has to single parent it and pack up a home, death of loved ones, and children with serious developmental delays.  At this point in my life I have given up on ever being financially comfortable - we will be perpetually middle class, four child broke.  I also have to add that at one point my husband was working full time and going to school full  time (to a college that was three hours away) while I worked part time and parented four children.  Our marriage has been stressful, to say the least. 

In my life I have also witnessed many marriages/relationships crumble.  While I am the first to say that life is too short to be unhappy, and no one should live in a relationship that is either physically or emotionally abusive, I will say that it is just sad to watch people give up so quickly on what they once said should last a life time.  So - here are my thoughts on how to produce a happy marriage.

1.  Make sure you are marring the right person.  OK - this might seem like a "duh", but you would be amazed at how many people marry the first person they fall in "love" with.  I have seen people get married at 17 and stay married forever, it does happen, but I have seen way more people get married right out of high school.  Do you really grasp marriage at that age?  I don't think most people do.  I was purposed to by three different people in my life time.  Now, I am not an amazing catch, I am the first to admit that one.  That fact that I was purposed to ever still amazes me, but I had three very different, honest proposals to marriage.  I know that I would have been happier being alone forever then marring either of the first to men who asked me to marry them.  We wouldn't have worked well together.  They were both great guys, and I liked them both as friends, but there is no way that I would have been able to live the rest of my life with them. 

2.  Only you can make yourself happy.  No man or woman will make you happy if you are un-happy.  I am not saying that a person won't bring you joy, but you can't marry someone with the thought that you will be happy once you marry them.  Only you can make you happy.   You can not bring happiness to someone else either - they have to find their own happiness.  In marriage, you can hope that the two of you together can help you find your own happiness, and you can share it together, but that is it.

3.  Things will not work out as you plan.  I am 38 years old.  I had plans for my life.  At this age Nick and I would be financially comfortable, have three very bright, funny, and witty kids.  We would travel the world and share that with our children.  We would have a plethora of friends and we would both be nearing the top of our career field - Nick as a writer and I as a pediatrician. . .   Those where my plans when we got married.  Life happens.  You can't let the road blocks in life ruin you or your marriage.   I never went to medical school.  Nick never was promoted.  Sick children led to crushing debt.  Heck - two of our children have serious developmental delays that really have changed our views on the future.  We are broke - four kids - working class broke.  Heck, I am 38 and Nick is 42 and we don't even own a house.  Very little has turned out the way we planned for it to turn out.  You have to roll with it and not let it destroy you or your marriage.

4.  Sex does not define a marriage.  OK - this is probably TMI but we have four kids who hardly ever sleep.  When they do finally all fall asleep there is a good bet that the adults are done as well.  Sex may be an awesome thing, but not having it as often as you would like does not mean that your marriage is over.

5.  Bringing another life into the relationship will not "fix" anything.  I love kids more than anything.  I personally would have a baby every two years if my body could, but my body can't do that anymore and honestly wasn't all that good at it when it could.  I love babies and puppies and kittens, but if your marriage is in trouble don't get pregnant, bring home a puppy or kitten. . . . . .don't.  Adding another life to chaos usually does not mend the issue - it usually just adds more stress and makes it worse!

6.  There are no "his job" " her job" in a relationship.  You are a TEAM.  It is not one persons job to hear the money while another persons to clean the house and take care of the kids.  Work together.  That may sound strange when you know me, I am a SAHM and Nick works full time.  I do most of the house work and take care of the kids, Nick earns the money and takes care of the yard.  That is how things tend to fall in our house, but there was a long time where we both worked and we both had to clean the house and cook.  When you start assigning "jobs" to one thing or the other than I find there is usually a lot of animosity when one person ends up doing the other persons job.  It isn't like that.  You are a TEAM.

7.  Don't fight about money.  OK - I know lots of people fight about money and I never understood that.  Maybe it is because we have never had more money than what we need.  There is no money to fight about because every penny pays the bills and for food, but so many people fight about money.  I saw it with my parents.  I have seen it with my friends.  Money is just money.  Oh - and there isn't "my money" or " his money".  You are a TEAM - the money belongs to the team and should go to benefit the TEAM! 

8.  You will have to give things up - don't be mad about it!  There will be things you enjoy that you will have to give up on - at least from time to time.  I love going to plays and the movies.  Love going!  I could go every week, but going to plays and movies can get expensive and when the money is tight you have to give it up.  Can't get mad at your spouse for it.  I wanted to be a SAHM.  Really wanted to be home with my kids when they were little, but because money was tight I had to get a job in order for the kids to eat.  Can't be mad at Nick for that, just how it is.  Nick loves his motorcycle, but when money is tight we can't afford to get it on the road.  Kids come first.  He can't be mad at me for that.  My point here is that things happen and both sides will have to give things up every now and then.  Maybe you love to go to the bar with your friends, but sometimes that can't happen because of money, work, kids.  You can't let that make you angry - that is life!

9.  Make your spouses goals important to you.  We all have goals in life (at least I hope we all do).  Know what your goals are, and know what your spouses goals are and do your best to make them happen.  Nick someday wants a pilot's license.  I want to make sure he gets that license.  I someday want a big old home, Nick knows that and is working to make that happen someday.  Nick wanted his MBA - so we made this happen - together.  We both want to help put our kids through college, not eat dog food in retirement, and be debt free.  Sometimes that seems unrealistic (like now when all the money earned seems to go towards living expenses), but these are goals we both have and someday I will go back to work to help these goals become a reality.

10.  It is not your spouses fault.  Life is hard.  The dreams you may dream may not ever happen.  You can be broke, tired, angry, scared. . . . don't take this out on your spouse.  You may have lost someone you love, may fell guilty about it, don't take it out on your spouse.  Your kids may have been nasty all day, you might not have gotten to shower, might feel fat and bloated, don't take it out on your spouse.

11.  Apologize.  We all say things we don't mean.  All of us.  When we are angry, sad, broken - things come out that we don't mean.  Apologize for it.  It isn't a competition.  You don't need to always be right.  Admit to being wrong and apologize.

12.  Don't give up because you don't like them.  OK - this probably sounds strange - but if there is no abuse in the relationship don't just walk away because you don't like that person.  There is point where being with someone can suck away your happiness - then you might really consider ending it - but if you are at a point where you just don't like that person don't end it.  Wait a little bit.  Give it time.  I will say - there have been times in the last 16 years where I didn't like Nick.  Times where the stress of dealing with kids and finances made his issues seem trivial and made me not want to deal with him anymore.  There were moments where I felt like everything I had to give was giving to the kids, and I just couldn't give him anything more.  Heck, there was a couple of years where this was how I felt - Nick was depressed over his crappy job and the loss of his family members, I was working and Gabe had just been diagnosed with autism while Evelyn was a year old.  We were broker and our health insurance wouldn't cover a dime of Gabe's medical expenses so every month seemed worse than the one before financially.  Nick had shut down and couldn't even even deal with Gabe's diagnosis - leaving it up to me alone to figure it out and figure out how we were going to pay for treatment.  Things were bad then, REALLY bad.  I didn't like Nick at that point, felt abandoned by him, didn't have it in me to help him deal with his own depression - but we didn't give up.  We talked about it at times, but the reality of it was that - a - we stood before God and promised we would be together until death -b- it was hard but no one said it would be easy and -c- at the end of our lives the reality of it is that I could think of no other man's butt I would be willing to wipe and I could think of no other man I would be OK wiping my butt than him.  He was my best friend at one point and just because things where hard and we both changed didn't negate the fact that he is my best friend.  

13.  Trust them.  You married them - stand back and trust them.  If they break your trust confront them, but until they have broken your trust then just trust them.  On the same token - be trust able.  Don't cheat on your spouse.   Don't hide things from him/her.  Don't betray him/her.  You are married to this person - act like you are married to this person!

14.  Communicate!  This is probably the number one reason why I think my marriage has lasted through what it has lasted through.  Tell your spouse everything.  Tell them what you feel and how you feel.  Tell them your plans and goals - and listen to them as they tell you theirs.  If you feel abandoned - tell them - and let them tell you things you don't want to hear.  Be open.  Be honesty. 

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Food for thought. . . .

I have known for a long time that my life revolves around food.  I am a dietitian.  I spend hours planning menus and cooking foods for my family.  I get a lot of joy out of feeding people and cooking.  I am also overweight and I know part of the reason I am overweight is because my life revolves around food.

Living down here it is obvious that other peoples lives don't revolve around food.  They do other things to find joy and many of them could eat cereal for all meals and be fine.  They really don't care about cooking elaborate meals and trying new recipes, they have their life and they eat because they have to.  This is new to me.  I Michigan a huge chunk of the people I knew had their life revolve around food.  Not all of them are overweight, but food was a big issue up there where I lived.  Survival won out of appearances and most functions included massive amounts of food to share.

So I have been analyzing it - like my bored housewife brain does - and I think I get it (at least for me anyway).  It starts with Grandma (like so many of my stories do).

Grandma grew up very, very poor.  She almost died of starvation as a baby.  Food security was always a huge issue for her throughout most of her life.  Will there be enough to eat?  And an even more pressing question, will there be enough food for those I love to eat?  Grandma couldn't give us a lot of physical things, but she could feed us and that was the focus of her life.  Sunday dinners where we all came to her house for yummy food.  Holiday meals where she would make her awesome potato salad and the best gravy you ever had.  She loved feeding us because it was something she could do for us.  She went hungry many a night so her kids and grandkids could eat.  Grandma loved us so she fed us.

I lived with Grandma most of the first 8 years of my life.  Grandma wanted to make me happy so she always made the foods I loved.  Thankfully those foods were also fairly inexpensive - boxed mac n cheese, ramen noodles, pot pies, noodles and butter. . . . I could eat those for every meal and be happy and for the most part I did.  I never had to try a food if I didn't want to, Grandma would just make what I liked.  As a pediatric dietitian I could go on about how this was not how you should feed a child - but as a child I loved that I didn't have to eat the things I didn't like.

And boy was I a picky eater!  So many foods I didn't like.  I didn't like peas, meat, tomatoes, anything that looked like a tomato or looked like it had tomatoes in it, mashed potatoes, green beans, pickles, cucumbers. . . the list went on and on.  I did like the foods she fed me thought.  Then I moved in with my Mom and Dad. . .

With my parents I didn't have free reign with my food choices.  My mom cooked the meal and it was up to me to eat it.  There was nothing else.  My Mom and Dad tried to do the "be a member of the clean plate club", but the reality of it was that they never forced me to eat anything.  Honestly, that is how it should be.  I know that as an adult and a parent, but as an 8 year old kid who always had what I wanted this was an issue.

Somewhere around 9 or 10 things changed.  My mom started working full time out of the house.  Sometimes two to three jobs at a time.  My Dad started focusing on his businesses and at that point EVERYTHING was about earning money and not spending any of it.  It was at this period when food disappeared.  We had plenty of money, could have purchased any food we wanted, but we weren't allowed to.  It was also about this time I began to not like eating in front of others.  I am not sure why.  Maybe it was because people always made fun of my liking pasta with no sauce, burgers with just cheese on them, just a hot dog and a bun.  I began to be very self-conscious about what I ate and I was very uncomfortable eating in front of anyone except my Grandma.  Family meals stopped now, you ate what you scavenged and sometimes there was nothing to scavenge. 

I did spend summers at Grandma's though, as well as every holiday.  At Grandma's things went back to eating what I liked and there always being food, but now when the food I liked was there I made sure I stuffed myself full of it because I never knew when the next meal was going to show up.  I became one of those kids that school lunch was probably the only meal I was going to get in a day, unless I was lucky enough to have some popcorn at home to make that evening (popcorn for dinner was a staple!)  I honestly only remember getting fresh fruit at the holidays, always an orange in my stocking at Christmas.  Occasionally, when I was at Grandma's, friends would bring fresh fruits and veggies to her when they were in season.  That was always a treat.  Healthy meals were not even a thought at this point - getting food into my stomach to keep me from being hungry was.

Then my brother was born.  Awww, if there was ever a terrible situation to have a child born into that was it.  He became very self sufficient.  By 12 months he could open his own cans of cream style corn to feed himself.  My mom was always working and my Dad really didn't care at that point, so poor BJ would wonder around all day taking care of himself.  I have no idea how he survived it to tell you the truth.  That house was so not baby proofed! 

But I digress. . . . food was an issue as you can see.  I was told by my Dad many times that I didn't deserve to eat.  I was a no good piece of garbage who was never going to amount to anything.  I didn't even deserve food.  I was ignorant and lazy.  No one would ever want me.  Heck, my own real biological Father didn't want me so I was lucky to have him for a Dad. . . . That kind of crap really messes with you.  Heck, if you are so low you don't even deserve to eat. . . .that is low.

Anyway, my mom did leave him and we ended up with Bill.  I love Bill.  I miss Bill.  He died of cancer in 2008, and I really do miss him, but Bill had his own demons.  One was control.  Bill needed to be in control - of everything.  So I went from a "fend for yourself" situation where I helped to take care of BJ and the house and I cooked meals when there was something to cook, to a situation where I couldn't even go to the bathroom without permission, I was told what the meals would be and the food was put on my plate and I was told I have to eat it before I can leave the table.  Can you see how this may have caused issues?

You would think I would be happy because now there was food on the table.  There were lots of things I was happy about - we had running water - we had heat - the windows didn't fall into the room when the wind blew - the house was clean (you better keep it clean or war would break out!) - but there are foods I still didn't like (and still don't).  I was glad BJ had enough food - but we couldn't eat when we were hungry we could only eat when Bill told us we could eat.  And we could only eat what he told us we could eat.  We had to cook the way he wanted us to cook.

Add to that the fact that meal times weren't fun.  We could make no noise when we ate.  Bill always watched the news while we ate (but it was at the kitchen table so that was awesome), but you couldn't make any noise because then he couldn't hear the news and a fight would start.  Every morning he would tell us what he wanted us to make for dinner, but when he came home he would start yelling at us that what we made wasn't want he wanted.  Everyday.  On top of that what ever it was that we made wasn't right - there was always something wrong with it.  We left something out.  Cooked it too long.  Cooked it not long enough.  Something.  So meals were spent with him loading up my plate (and BJ's plate) with the amount of food he thought we should eat (and he always gave us small servings of the stuff we liked and huge servings of the stuff we didn't), then the TV would be turned on at the threshold of pain while we ate, him yelling at BJ or myself for chewing too loud or eating too fast/slow, complaining about the meal.  I so dreaded mealtimes. . .

It was at this point where I decided that when I had control over what I could eat that I would never eat anything I didn't like.  I would never cook anything I didn't like.  It became a control issue for me as well.

The vast majority of my first 20 or so years was spent either worrying about if I would have enough to eat or dreading having to sit down and eat something I thought was nasty.  I really hated eating around anyone because I was so convinced that I ate "wrong" and that everyone would make fun of me for how or what I ate.  That first year of college was terrible!  Eating a dinning hall around all those other people.  In my own mind they were all watching me and making fun of me because I knew I ate wrong - too loud or too fast - not the right foods.  That freshman year in college I lost 20 pounds in a month.  I just didn't eat.  When I would get to tired to function I would try to go to the hall and eat by myself in a corner of the dinning hall.  I tried to go when I knew there wouldn't be too many people.  It was not healthy.  You can probably figure out why I thought dietetics was such an easy field - I had spent most of my life with food being the center so that degree seemed to fit my focus already. 

So know I am an adult with enough money to buy to food I like and the skills to cook just about anything.  I want my kids to feel good about what and how they eat.  I don't want food to be the center of their life - like it has been mine.  I am trying to change - for my kids.  I want my kids to know joy beyond eating - because I swear at this point in our lives the only joy we get is when we cook together - everything else is function (cleaning, school, baths, teeth brushing. . . . function and work).  I see how excited my kids get when the get to help me cook - and I am glad they get excited about it.  I am glad that when all four of my kids leave this house they will know how to cook - but I don't want that to be the only thing they enjoy and focus on.  We need to relax some and let the function go and find joy other places.  Need to change my focus.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Just plain sad. . . .

I love you.  I will say it - if you are reading this know that I feel some form of love towards you.  The reality of it is that I love everyone.  Some people I like and some I don't like - but I feel some form of love towards everyone I meet.  If I know you personally and I bring you some cookies, or do something for you I am not doing it because I want something back, I am doing it because I care about you and want to do something for you.  Now I will admit I have met people I have detested.  People do make me angry.  I have heard people say things that make me sick to the point where I just can't listen to them anymore, but when it comes down to it I love everyone and want to see good things happen to all. 

With that being said lately I have been very disheartened.  I have heard so much hate and anger spewed in every direction.  Part of it was the election - being told that I couldn't care about my children if I voted a certain way.  Hearing that people who are amazing Christians and loving people being told that they aren't Christians if they voted a certain way.  Reading things like anyone who would vote for a certain person would have to be ignorant and on drugs.

Along with the election though I have heard people just say and do horrible things to each other.  The young neighbor boy who is being made fun of because of his ethnicity.  The horrible things I have heard and read aimed towards those who fall in love with someone of the same sex.  Terrible things said about people who do not follow the Christian faith.  The amount of hate I see around me brings tears to my eyes and breaks my heart.

I have a question for all of these people who feel this way and say this stuff. . . Why?  What purpose does hating someone serve?  Why would you hate someone who is Jewish?  What has that person done to you?  Why do you hate someone who's Grandparents are from a different country?  I am betting if you looked at your family tree you would see that not long ago your ancestors were from a different country too.  What does it hurt you if that woman you see is in love with another woman?  How is that against you?

Life is hard for everyone.  Bad things happen to good people all the time.  Good things happen to bad people all the time.  Life is what it is.  I think we all know this.  So why would you make it your mission to go out of your way to make someone's life harder?  What do you get from that?  Does it make you a good Christian to scream "faggot" as a couple passes you buy?  To spray paint "faggot" on someone's car before you flip it over?  Did Jesus scream "Dirty Mexician" when someone of hispanic decent walked by?  Did Jesus scream, "Dirty Jew" when someone Jewish walked by?

Think about it.  1 John 4:8 "He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love."  God is love.  Again - GOD IS LOVE. 

How can you read the bible and be a Christian and still hate?  I admit I have not read the bible cover to cover - but I have read the bible.  The impression I got was that God put us here to love and support each other - not to judge and hate each other.

 John 8:7 "So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her."  Are you without sin?  I admit I have sinned.  I try hard to not sin, but I do.  I was created in sin, the child of an unwed mother.  I have done things I am not proud of.  I have done things I wish I could take back.  I have lied before.  So again I ask you, are you without sin?  I know I am not without sin.  All sins are sin - from saying something that is un-true to murder.  A sin is a sin.  From what I have read there are no sins that are worse than another - sin is a sin.  So how can anyone who has ever sinned condemn another?

Again - GOD IS LOVE.  How can anyone read those lines and still walk around hating those who aren't like us.  I may be wrong but the impression I got from reading the bible is that you want to live your life like a light.  Do the best you can do.  Love and glow with God's love.  Doing this will allow all those moths who may have a harder time hearing and feeling God's love to come and flock to your light.  Your light will draw them in way more than your words and condemnation.

When it comes down to it, only God can judge.  Only God.  Think about that when you stand before God and have to answer for your actions.  How are you going to explain the hate towards those who aren't like you to God?

I refuse to hate anyone who isn't like me.  I refuse to let that come in and permeate who I am.

"He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love."

What do you choose?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012


Dear Americans - I generally don't care if I have a huge following but if you read this and agree please share this one with everyone you know. . .

We are Americans and our country is in trouble.  It is one day past election day and I am already reading responses from both parties that neither one of them will budge on their party line.  This has been a major problem in the past and needs to stop.  I am asking everyone to write to their representatives on the federal level, as well as the majority leaders in house and senate to make this stop.  We are not Democrats and we are not Republicans - we are AMERICANS and we need to stop following party lines and do what American needs to have done.  I plan to do this - wish I had the money to write to everyone of them everyday for as long as it takes - but I don't.  I figure though that there are people like me - people who love America and want us to be great again.  I even produced a sample letter you could use if you would like.

This is our country founded by people like us - all of us.  Voting does help some - but the reality of it is that we need to make our voices heard.  Our founding  fathers knew we could get to this point and gave us constitutional rights to help change things - and we need to use these rights to make sure this happens.  I don't care what party you are - I think one thing we all have in common is that we love this country and we are all sad to see the way it is going.

Dear . . . . . . ,

I am deeply worried about America's future.  I have read in several different places that both sides, Republican and Democrat alike, are refusing to budge and come together to fix the problems in America.  This makes me very sad.  I love America and want to see her thrive again, and as a voting American I am asking you, my representative, to make sure she does thrive again.  Please put your political party aside and work together as one to bring America back.  As an American I do know that we are going to have to make cuts that hurt and we are all going to have to pay a portion of this debt and I, as an American am willing to do this.  Please work together to make this happen in a way that is fair and allows everyone to pay their fair share.

I love America and believe in America, now lets all act like Americans and make this happen.  We went to the moon because we said we would.  We banded together and pulled a little girl out of a well.  Lets come together now and do what is right for America, not what is right for just one political party.

Thank you, 

Your name. . .

Click here to find your Senator.  Click here to find your Congressman.  Click here for the President's address.  Click here for the Speakers address.

Send a letter to all of them.  The more people we can get to do this the better.  At least they will know what we want of them.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Budget guilt. . . the balancing act of a middle class housewife. . .

I don't know how other families and homes work - but I know how ours works. . . . my husband makes the money and I spend it.  Now that might sound fun, but it isn't.  I balance the budget.  I am the one who has to take my husband's income and make it pay all our bills, buy food, things the kids need, and hopefully find a way to pull some aside for a rainy day.  Balancing the budget always depresses me and puts me in a bad mood.  The kids even know it, they come around the corner and see my budget spreadsheet up on the computer and I hear whispers, "Don't go in there, she is paying the bills.  She his going to be in a bad mood."

Now, I can't complain about my husbands pay for I know he is overpaid for what he does.  Also, we both decided at this point in our children's lives that I need to be home, for that explanation click here.  With that being said, like many other middle class families we struggle.  We live by a budget.  We have to make choices over what we really need vs what we want (thus the reason I don't have a cell phone).  Cost of things we need really have outstripped income increases, plus we now have decent size student loan to pay off.  Take all these things and add four kids and we end up with a very tight budget.

A couple of months ago my husband lost a week of pay.  His work decided to change when payday was so instead of getting four weeks pay for September we only ended up getting three weeks of pay.  We were notified in July that this was going to happen, so we had a little time to prepare, but for a family like ours that lives by that budget we found we had to make some changes.  August to October have been rough months for us and I am so thankful that thus far (knock on wood) nothing major and unexpected happened.  I decided to re-evaluate the budget and see what we could cut out or reduce.

In looking at our budget I found that we could reduce our food expenses.  I always feel guilty if someone finds out what we spend on food a month.  Being overweight I know that people live under the conception that a gobble down massive quantities of food.  Most of the time I don't, but I am still self conscious about it.  Before I changed our budget we were spending around $200 a week for our family of six.  Most months, paycheck wise, have me purchasing four weeks of food thus I budget $800 for those months.  There are two months in the year we we get three paychecks in a month and on those months I have to budget for six weeks of food, thus $1200 a month.  That just seems so high and I felt like a guilty, fat cow for spending that much on food.  There had to be a way we could cut that down, right?

At that point I changed our food budget to $150 per week, or $600 per month on a normal month.  I just knew I could find a way to make that work for us.  I am a dietitian so I should be an expert at making a healthy and balanced menu that fit into that budget.  I do want to add here that our food budget contains more than just food.  Our food budget is what we spend on cat litter, dog and cat food, cleaning supplies, paper products, furnace filters, light bulbs. . . . .our food budget is our living budget and doesn't strictly include food.

I do want to say here that my husband and I find it very important to feed our kids as healthy and balanced of a diet as we can.  We try very hard to make sure they get veggies, have fresh fruits, enough calcium to make their bones grow.  We find it very important to show them a variety of foods and cuisines.  I enjoy cooking (when I have the time).  Cooking is really my hobby.  So, with that in mind I set out, determined to feed six people healthy meals on $150 a week!

August, September, and October I followed this budget.  I had this new budget put into my budget spreadsheet for a full year, because I just knew I could make this work!  I knew I could!  Now, here at the end of my third full month I have realized something. . . .I can't do it.

Yep, I am admitting failure here.  I can't find a way to feed all six of us here in Lithia, Florida on $150 a week.  I mean, I could have done it had I compromised some of my principals on feeding my family.  We could have eaten Ramen Noodles for dinner.  We could have had boxed mac n cheese more (and I am talking Save A Lot brand, not Kraft.)  I could have feed them bologna sandwiches and Bar S hot dogs.  Doing these things would have allowed us to fit in that budget.  I came close to fitting in that budget even with the menus I made, but the balance just wasn't there.  My girls actually told me at one point that if they had to eat another PB and J sandwich for lunch that they would run away. 

I was sad this morning as I changed our next years worth of budget to reflect this failure.  In Michigan I could feed us all for $150 a week - heck usually less.  Down here in Florida I purchase way less "extras".  I don't know when I purchased ice cream last.  Honestly can't remember.  I did by a box of FlavorIce Popsicles at the beginning of the summer, but normally we just make our own popciles if we want some.  Popcorn and apples really are our snacks of choice (and when I say popcorn I don't mean microwave popcorn, I get the bag of kernels for $1.79 at Wal-Mart and we pop them).  I was just so demoralized over not being able to do this on that budget.  It seems like everyone else can feed their families on much less money than I spend.

So, being the geek I am, and really trying to find some way to not change that budget number, I started searching for average food costs and what a family our size should spend of food.  Even with our $800 budget we don't get everything we need.  Personally, I choose to go hungry vs eating the fruit that our kids love so much.  Milk and cheese are saved for the kids and I take my calcium pills.  I have to be doing something wrong in order to be spending so much money on food for my family since no one else I know seems to spend that much.

After looking at meal plans and menus, that really contain more expensive items than we even purchase I finally came across something that made me feel better, a USDA chart of what people/families should be spending on balanced menus in the United States.  These charts use several different menu plans that were set up by the USDA.  The mixed together the different costs of these plans and the needs of people in certain age groups and they figured out how much a family/person would have to spend in order to meet all their nutrient needs.  Being me I am sure you can guess what I did.

OK - so my family of six on my old budget spent $866 a month on food (I took our entire year food budget and divided by 12), and the new budget I had made put us at $650 a month on food.  Looking at the charts and the different levels of feeding your family (thrifty, low cost, moderate cost, and liberal), the USDA had determined that to feed a family of six a healthy, balanced menu (having to purchase all food like we have to - we have no garden and we do not hunt) we should be spending from $897 to $1781 (I took the family of four with the ages of one twin and Evelyn and added the single cost of the second twin and Gable).  So, even with our more expensive budget (that again isn't just food but includes everything we need to live) we still do not spend what the USDA says we need to spend to feed our family a healthy, balanced diet.  This honestly made me feel better about what I was spending.  I don't feel so guilty about having to change our budget to be more reasonable for our family. 

I do feel sad though.  I know when we were living on that $150 a week budget there were things we had to do to keep our kids from being hungry that weren't the healthiest.  When the meal was over, we were out of bananas and apples and the kids where hungry we resorted to more bread and butter or bread and mayo than I would have liked.  I will say, I know a lot of people who have to spend less money on food than we do (like we did these last few months because of that lost week in September), and they don't have the luxury of being able to go in and go back to the higher budget.  We only had to do this for a few months, for many people this is their life.  I can totally understand how being poor can lead to obesity. . . . . apples and bananas fill you up with less calories than bread and butter or bread and mayo - yet a three pound bag of apples down here is $6, while a loaf of bread at Wal-Mart is $1.50, and margarine is around a $1 a pound.

Needless to say I feel less guilty putting our budget in November back to what it was in June, and I don't feel as bad about what we do spend because it is important to us to feed our family a healthy diet (and I am thankful that most of the time we have the luxury of being able to afford to feed them healthy foods).

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Gratitude. . .

The last year and a half of missing Grandma has been hard.  She is not someone I will ever "get over" - she was too big in my life for that.  It still seems, a year and a half out, that on a daily basis I think of her and miss her.  Not having her around to talk to really is like losing a piece of myself.  With that being said, at this point I just feel a tremendous amount of gratitude.  I feel so grateful that I get to grieve for her.

Now, please don't think this means I am glad she is gone, because I am not.  If I could get Grandma back the way she was 10 years ago I would do just about anything to do it.  The last couple of years for Grandma were hard for her.  I wouldn't want to elongate that for her - not being able to see or hear - being scared because she couldn't see or here - and being frustrated because she couldn't take care of her family anymore.  I know how hard that was for her.

I feel gratitude because I had someone like her in my life.  I know many people who have lost those they loved.  They grieve.  They miss that person very much.  I myself have lost people I cared about and I miss them, but somehow the loss of them was different from the loss of Grandma.  Grandma was always that one person who could bring me joy and happiness.  She was that one person who always made me realize everything was going to be OK.  She was that one person who accepted me for who I am.  She never criticized who I was (although she did let me know if she thought I was doing something that was wrong).  From the time of my birth she was my rock.  When life was hell and crazy and I had times where I didn't know if I could continue another day Grandma was always there and the same.  Grandma's house was my haven - filled with joy and love because she made it that way.

I feel gratitude because I know not everyone has someone in their life like my Grandma.  It was a privilege to have her in my life.  In my prayers I thank God for giving her to me and even though this grieving process sucks, even though there are moments where the pain is still so strong I can't even stand, I know how lucky I am to have had someone like her in my life.  I am so grateful to be able to grieve for her.  True saddness would be living my life and never having someone like her in it.

Thank you God for giving me my Grandma. . . .

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Gabe's menu idea - meatless. . . .

First - before I get much further - I want to say I have a beer in me and no dinner (and it is 10pm) - so I hope this comes out coherent! 

Last week Gabe said, "I want to become a vegetarian."  Now - I like meat.  My husband likes meat.  I find I need some protein or I really don't feel very good, but I saw that line as a challenge.  Anyone who knows me and knows our "Eating like the World" expedition (which is way too expensive to do in Tampa, Florida) knows that I try to jump into these food challenges with gusto!  I love looking for and trying new recipes.  So, I decided to try to go vegetarian for the next two weeks (OK - it is only 12 days).  Then I told the family. . . . .

Evie cried and said, "I will DIE without meat."  Nick said, "Ummm. . . . I like meat."  Lucy just started crying.  Ellie ignored me (if she pretends to not hear what I say than it won't be true).  Gabe - he had my favorite reaction of all. . . "What?  No!  I just meant I wanted to eat canned peaches for dinner every night." 

So I researched foods and here is the menu I came up with.  A few recipes I have done before, but many are knew.  Some of recipes would take chicken well if the family revolts on me and demands meat (grocery shopping Lucy told everyone how "mean" I was because I wasn't going to let her eat meat anymore!).  I will let you guys know which recipes are yummy!

Sunday - Salad
Monday - Creamy Avacado Pasta
Tuesday - Portabella Mushroom burgers with French fries and veggies.
Wednesday - Black Bean Burritos (my birthday!) and carrot cake
Thursday - Spinach Soup with Beer Bread
Friday - Three cheese EggPlant Lasagna with homemade garlic bread
Saturday - Cacio e Pepe Pasta
Sunday - Black Bean Burgers with homemade french fries
Monday - Portabella Phillies with chips.
Tuesday - Broccoli Pesto Pasta
Wednesday - Spaghetti Aglio
Thrusday - Orzo Salad with Chickpeas and Feta
Friday - Grandma's Casserole (not vegetarian)
Saturday - Goulash (not Vegetarian)
Sunday - Braised chicken, pasta, green beans (not vegetarian)

I had loads of desserts I didn't make this last few weeks so I just put them on this menu here and there.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The new witch hunt. . . . . .

When I was younger I heard of the Salem Witch trials, where people went around and hunted down those who they believed where witches.  In my lifetime I have seen several other witch trials.  For a while it was those who were homosexual.  For a while it was those who smoked.  Now it is those who are obese.

I come at this blog from two different perspectives that have kind of merged together to give me my opinion on weight, health and obesity.  Those who know me know that I am a dietitian.  Yep - I graduated with distinction from Purdue University, had I had Purdue's equivalent of Summa Cum Laude.  I have practiced the field for over 10 years.  I know how bad obesity is for the human body.  On the other side of the coin I come at this as someone who has been overweight my entire life, according to weight charts, and now I am obese.

I will say first of all that being obese is not healthy.  It just isn't.  My biggest issue is just how much emphasis is put on those numbers - weight and BMI.  After reading about Jennifer Livingston and the email that was sent to her I feel I really need to write this blog.  I need to write it for those who struggle with weight and for those who have never had to struggle with weight.  I need to write this as a medical professional who sees that this country is heading down a dangerous path where people are going to be forced into costly and dangerous surgeries, and where inadequate health care is offered to those who are considered obese.

We, as a country, need to stop focusing on a number.  BMI, weight, ideal body weight - that is all a bunch of garbage in my opinion.  They are guidelines and should be used as that, not set in stone goals that everyone needs to focus on.   These are good tools to see how someone is doing - but they should not be used as the end all be all.

Here are a few things I have learned in my practice.  First - BMI fluctuates dramatically with small changes in height and weight (this is especially true in children).  I can't tell you how many panic-ed parents I would have to see who were told there 3 year old was fat and needed to be put on a diet because their BMI put them above the 95%-ile on a growth grid, and then when you analyze it you find they were about to shoot up in height.  

Second - obesity is more complicated that it just being a choice that someone has made (as the person who wrote to Jennifer Livingston stated).  Do obese people eat more than they should, well heck yes.  That is how your body has excess calories to store as fat.  We all know that, but at the same time it is more complicated than that.  Someone who is overweight may make very healthy food choices yet they can still be overweight.  Someone who is overweight my exercise on a daily basis and do their best to live an active life.  To be honest - with the exception of the morbidly obese people I have met, most of the people I know who eat like garbage and never/rarely exercise are super thin people.  A lot of people who are functionally overweight/obese have metabolisms set so low that it doesn't take much to exceed the calories they need in a day - even when they do exercise.  I can say from experience, it his hard to function on 800-1200 calories a day without being totally starved.

Going along with the above statement - "choosing" to not be obese anymore is more complicated that choosing to no longer take part in other unhealthy "choices".  You can wake up one day and decided to quit smoking or drinking, you can't wake up and say "OK, I am not going to be obese anymore" and the just not be obese.  Unlike quitting smoking or drinking - you can't just stop eating.  If you stop eating you die.  It would be like the alcoholic who continues to drink yet controls the amount he/she drinks.  It takes a lot longer than just deciding to do it.

Third - going back to numbers again - those numbers should be a GUIDE.  I am five feet tall exactly.  My ideal body weight should be from 90 to 110 pounds.  The lowest weight I have ever seen as an adult was 114 pounds, and you would think that is when I should have been my healthiest.  Well I wasn't.  My body hated being that weight.  Every time I stood up I would get light headed, and occasionally pass out.  When ever I was stressed my body would dump too much insulin into my blood stream and I would have a seizure caused by quick drops in my blood glucose levels.  I was the most un-healthy I have ever been in my life.  My body was happy and healthy right around 130 pounds.  At 130 pounds I "overweight".

Fourth - you never know why someone is overweight.  Never.  Maybe that person you saw just had a baby and is working on losing that weight.  Maybe that person you see actually just lost 100#'s and is working hard to lose more.  You don't know.  I know before I had kids it was much easier to lose weight.  I could spend 2 hours at the gym everyday.  It was much easier to keep calories super low and monitor what I eat.  After kids there are times where they day flies by and I realize it is 6 pm and I have eaten nothing.  Instead of just having a piece of chicken and dry rice I have to prepare a variety of foods for my children to try.  My, for a long time, was on preparing gluten free/casein free meals so my son could eat something.  There is no way I could spend two hours a day at the gym.  Finally, I know for me I spent 51 weeks on bed rest between my three pregnancies.  51 weeks laying there watching myself get fatter and weaker.  It was worth it, because if I hadn't done that I wouldn't have my four children, but it was hard and my body has not ever gone back.

Fifth - some people lose weight easier than others.  Yep - this is true.  I know, a calorie is a calorie and if you just cut back on what you eat and exercise more then you can lose weight.  That is true to a certain extent, but every body is different.  In general, those who are younger have an easier time losing weight.  In general, men have an easier time losing weight.  But on top of those things - some peoples makeup just makes losing weight harder or easier.  Some bodies, once a person starts cutting back on calories and increasing activity, automatically lower what they need to function on.  Thus, you can get a person who is eating less and exercising more and still gaining weight.  I know people who just decide to lose weight and they just lose it.  Small changes make a big difference.  I know others who work and work at it and still don't lose any weight.  I even know people who try to gain weight but just can't - no matter what they do.  Every body is different.

Sixth - no matter what there will still be some people who are overweight.  There are people - like me to be honest - who will never have a BMI less than 25.  Their body is not meant to be there.  It is not healthy for their body to be there.  I have a photo of my Great Grandmother and my Great-Great Grandmother (her mother) - they weren't morbidly obese but they were not small people.  They were active, hardworking people but their body was meant to be more stately than what a doctor's chart would have dictated they be.  This is what scares me about using that BMI as the end all be all for determining the health of a person - it should be a guide not a set in stone marker.

Here is what I think we should do - focus on health.  Eat right.  Yep - eat right.  Eat 3 meals a day.  Eat 5-7 fruits and veggies.  Limit simple sugars and high fats.  Try to eat fresh foods.  Get some calcium for your bones.  Then, exercise.  Get a good pedometer (the Omron HJ-112 is my favorite), and yes, make it a good one that doesn't count jiggles as a step, and make sure you walk at least 10,000 steps each day.  Make it a goal.  Find an exercise you like and do it 3-5 days a week.  Jogging, bike riding, swimming. . . be more active.  Have regular physicals.  Check your blood sugar levels, cholesterol levels, and blood pressure.  Use that along with your body weight/BMI to determine what your health is.  Try to stop smoking and drink only in moderation.  Focus on your health not the numbers on a scale!

Here is what really scares me - and this is a true story.  The former insurance company my husband had has implemented a new system this year (I still have friends who have this inusrance).  At the start of their year you were weighed and analyzed.  Each employee has six months to get their BMI down to the number they said you need to be at.  If you do not get your BMI down to that number then you have two choices - you undergo gastric bypass surgery or you have to take the more costly insurance that doesn't cover as much.  I have a friend who is about 50 pounds overweight.  She is very tall and large framed.  Even when she was thin she wasn't in that "BMI range" that the insurance wants her to be in.  She would look very unhealthy at the weight the insurance company demands her to be at.  So her six months are coming near an end and she has not lost those 50  pounds, thus she must either choose between gastric bypass surgery or the inferior insurance.  First - how is this legal to force someone to have a major surgery?  Second - losing 50 pounds in 6 months is a lot of weight - and in my opinion, very difficult to lose in a healthy way.

So this is the way I see it going.  People and the medical community will still focus on the number on the scale or your pants size.  Going out in public obese will be an ordeal - and God forbid an obese person try to go to a restaurant (I have already heard possible bills making it illegal to sell obese people fast food or junk food).  Instead of trying to get a population healthy we will be persecuting them and forcing them to undergo dangerous surgeries, or dropping them from health insurance all together.  I just see this going down a path that is just as unhealthy as the path we are on now. . . . 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Living in a beautiful world. . . . .

I have never been what you would call beautiful.  I have never even been what you would call pretty.  To be honest - I am ugly.  I am over weight and have a terrible body.  I have very British teeth (ie - very, very crooked and stained).  I have terrible skin (not fair to be dealing with wrinkles and acne).  I have hair that does nothing, no matter how long I work on it to try to make it look nice.  I am physically ugly.

Being ugly is hard for a woman.  I think most women want to feel pretty at some point in their life.  I have done things with pretty women - and it never ceases to amaze me how differently pretty women are treated.  It is true - people treat attractive, beautiful women differently then ugly ones.  I had a friend in college who looked just like Jessica Alba.  We both had our first children at the same time, and when we went places together people would hold the door open for us.  They would give up tables for us at restaurants, and let us cut in line at the check out.  Clerks in stores would come running up to us to see if they could help us.  I was AMAZED at the difference.

I live in a beautiful world.  I live in a community of Stepford people.  They have it all put together.  They have beautiful white, straight teeth.  They have beautiful bodies.  Their hair is always in place.  They wear beautiful clothing.  When they pull their kids out of the car their cars are spotless.  Their children are always beautiful with pressed clothing and hair in place, not a stain anywhere.  Everything about them exudes perfection.  And here I am.

I try to get a better body.  Really, I do.  I exercise 5 days a week.  I spend most of the day starving, and try very hard to limit what I eat at dinner time.  I drink nothing with calories in it.  I watch what I eat (for the most part).  Doesn't work.  The only way I lose weight is by totally stopping eating.  In the past, that was the ONLY time I lost weight - when I was so sick I couldn't eat or keep anything down for an extended period of time, or I just stopped eating because I couldn't stand being fat anymore.  I have seizures, I pass out, and in the end I am still not 90-110 pounds (my IBW).  I will never have a cute body, never.  I may be more in shape and eat healtier, but I will never be where society and charts say I should be.  And to make matters even worse - I am a dietitian.  I am a fat dietitian. 

My skin - horrible.  I have tried everything - nothing works.  When I wear makeup to cover it the make up only makes it worse.  Exercise makes it worse.  The only thing that helps it is if I don't exercise at all and don't go any place I will sweat.  We live in Florida - that isn't going to happen.  And I need to exercise or I would weigh twice what I weigh now.

My teeth - I brush and floss them every day.  I go to the dentist, but they stain.  They are crooked.  I have gotten estimates to have them fixed . . . $20,000.  Yep, $20,000.  We don't have $20,000 to fix my teeth.  We will never have $20,000 to fix my teeth.  And yes - I have had two different orhto's give me that quote. 

So I live in beautiful Florida with all these beautiful people and I am ugly.  I take my kids to functions and either get ignored or stared at.  People drive by me while I am walking and bark at me out the window.  I try to talk to people and the nicest I get is that "awww, this person is trying to talk to me," to just being rudely ignored and scoffed it. 

I am tired of it.  I am tired being treated like a nothing piece of shit.  I am not ignorant and air-headed.  I am so tired of being treated that way.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Polish Bacon casserole (Haluski)

This dish - Oh man.  I made this for my step father once and he loved it so much that he hid the left overs in the back of the fridge so he could eat them all the next day!

This dish has a story behind it.  I am a dietitian and I worked in a hospital for a couple of years.  I had to do Coumadin education for a lady - and when you are on coumadin you have to have very consistent Vitamin K consumption.  When I discussed this with her and which foods she would have to watch she got very upset.  She said, "Now I can't have my Haluski."  I asked her what that was and this is what she said.  "I am Polish, both my parents were born and raised in Poland.  This time of year we always have Haluski."  The she proceeded to tell me the recipe.  Basically, it is a casserole of bacon, cabbage, and noodles.  I know - sounds kind of nasty, right?  It isn't.  It is pure comfort food.

Ingredients:  (this makes a lot - we eat this for days - so you may want to 1/2 the recipe!)

2 pounds of bacon
1 onion (chopped)
1 head of cabbage
1 1/2 pounds of egg noodles (I like using no yolks)

Fry the bacon in a large pan.  I use the electric fry pan.  Fry until crispy but not black.  Set on paper towel to drain.

Start water for noodles.  Once boiling cook just until done (I cook for six minutes).  Then drain and set aside.

While bacon is cooking, chop cabbage into bite size pieces.  I make them a little bigger than the noodles since they cook down.  When bacon is done pour off half the oil from the bacon, add cabbage and onions to the remaining fat and fry, covered, at medium head until done (about 15 minutes).

While cabbage is cooking, chip bacon.  When cabbage is done add cabbage and bacon to the noodles.  Mix well and serve!

Pollo Loco - chicken recipe

I know I haven't posted any recipes in a long time, but I really do want to start posting them again!  Here is one of our favorite recipes.  Everyone in the house loves this, and we all eat it pretty much until we are sick.  So good!  I got this from blog site.  I change it a little, but that was where I got the basic idea!

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast.  I cut them into 3 oz pieces.
1 bottle Lawry's Mesquite Marinade
3 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 cup uncooked long grain rice.  I like to use Basmati rice
2 Tbsp dried minced onion flakes
2 cloves minced garlic
2 Tbsp Taco Seasoning
4 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cup tomato sauce

1 container white Mexican Queso.  I get this from Sam's club.

Marinate the chicken in the marinade overnight.  I do this after I have cut the chicken up to the size we like.  When ready to cook - set broiler to high and broil two notches down to the top.  Turn every 7 minutes until done (juices run clear or internal temp is 165 degrees).

In the meantime, start the rice.  Heat the oil over medium heat, and dump the rice.  Cook until golden, stirring consistently.  Add the garlic and taco season

At this point add the broth, tomato sauce and onion flakes.  Cook to boil.  Cover and simmer 20 minutes.  Fluff when done.

Heat the queso according to package.  Then, put rice on the plate, put a piece of chicken on top of the rice and pour cheese over top of all of it.  Then gobble it down.  So yummy!

What Americans need from our elected officials

Gotta love presidential election time!  Mud slinging.  Hate spewing.  "I will say anything to get you to vote for me," crap.  Facebook has helped this year.  All the political crap that is being tossed out there on Facebook - the, "This guys is not American, he spent us into debt and changed our flag, if you vote for him you are not American and you want to kill babies and spend your kids into debt, " or the, "If you vote for this guy all middle class Americans will pay higher taxes, he is a bully and will send all gays out to slaughter," sort of crap.  Personally, I am sick of both sides.

For me, I vote by the person.  Democrat/Republican - I am neither (I know, most people believe I am a die hard, left wing liberal, but I am not.)  There is no party that fits me.  I am pro-life, pro-gun, believe one parent should be home to raise children (either man or woman, don't care), believe family should be the number one thing in life once you have kids, and I am Christian.  At the same time I believe if a person falls in love with someone of the same sex and wants to commit together for a life time than they should be able to do so.  Their should be some form of legal union.  Homosexuality and God - that is between them and God - I need not be a part of that.  I believe that if a two year college education is needed for someone to get a job then we, as a country, should provide that to all.  Add an associates degree to what the United States provides for education for all American children (then if someone wants to go further with a Bachelors, Masters, or PHD have them pay for it).  I believe minimum wage should be increased, and welfare programs should be enacted to help those working poor be not so poor - if you work you should be able to provide a decent, non-starving life for yourself.  You can see here that I fit neither Democrat or Republican - and voting is always a difficult thing because I always have to give up on something.

Well, that is the thing.  America is hurting.  Cost of living has increased while pay has not.  Jobs were lost.  The economy stinks.  College educations are so expensive that those graduating are doing so with a mortgage payment of student loans, but jobs that pay only slightly more than minimum wage.  America is collapsing upon itself and everyone is screaming at each other.  Republicans have forgotten that Bush the second was the President when everything collapsed and Bush the second increased the national debt way more than Obama has - they are just screaming that we have to go back to a Republican president so times can "prosper" again (do your research, all American ressessions have begun during the end of a Republican presidency).  Democrats are screaming that the rich will just get richer and the middle class will sink into poverty while you lose your medicare if Republicans take the presidency. What is going to cause America to collapse - this crap!

When I vote - I have to give up on somethings.  Republicans/Democrats - give up on somethings.  What we are doing isn't working so obviously you are BOTH wrong.  We need to come together and find something that works - something that will increase pay for Americans and get them working again.  Something that will decrease the debt.  Something that will help bring back that American dream of "If I work hard and don't spend like crazy it will all work out and we will be OK" kind of life - because right now I see it as almost impossible for that to happen.

The Founding Fathers warned us of what would happen in a two party system.  George Washington's farewell address talked at length about it - yet we didn't learn and here we are.  We are ALL Americans - we are not Democrats or Republicans - we are AMERICANS!  Most of us have had a family member shed blood in some war or another.  Most of us love this country, I know I do, I may not be proud of it but I love it and I want to see it prosper.

So here is what I think needs to happen.  Stop with the mud slinging.   Our country is in crisis and we need help.  We are in debt and we need to bring that debt down. . . . cut things.  First try to cut the things that won't hurt people as much.  First try to cut things that won't end jobs.  Then cut things that hurt.  Make our politicians do things like people do.  When I travel I look for the best value for my dollar - make politicians do the same.  When I wanted to do or get something for work I had to submit reasons why I wanted it and find the cheapest cost - so should our politician.  If we are going to be cutting WIC and food to needy people I don't want to ear about the president or a congressmen spending $3000 a night at a hotel.  They can stay at a Holiday Inn just like I can.  Cut things and control this spending!

Second - raise taxes.  Yep.  Raise taxes.  Raise taxes on all of us.  The system we have right now isn't a bad one - but there are lots of loop holes and deductions - get rid of them.  Tax every dollar earned for Social Security so people can have something to retire on (we pay INTO THIS!  This is not an "entitlement" program - this is our money and we want it back at some point!)  Use that tax percentage - if your income is x or less then you pay 5%, if your income is between x and y, then you pay 10%, if your income is between y and z then you pay 15% . . . . . no deductions. . . . no loopholes. . . no "if you have 12 kids then you don't have to pay anything."  Get rid of all of that and just do it this way.  Would this hurt - yes - I now it would hurt us.  Having four kids brings our taxes down, but everyone needs to hurt here - not just the rich, middle class, or poor - everyone needs to hurt.

Third, stop policing the world.  We can't.  Other parts of the world have different values than we do - and we need to let them have those values.  A huge chunk of our budget goes to the military and these wars that are out there.

Fourth, cut politicians pay if they can't figure things out.  They cut teacher pay if their kids don't get a certain test score - so cut politicians pay if they can't get a budget balanced.

Fifth, look out for AMERICA and AMERICANS!  You are voted to represent us - not some party or political jargon!!!!  Stop democrat/republican garbage and do what we want you to do even if it isn't what you want to do!

Sixth (forgot to add this - so I had to come back and add it), get Americans working again - and make that pay be worth it!  We need jobs.  We need jobs that pay for us to live.  Someone who works 80 hours a week should not have to starve.  If a person has a job they should be offered some form of health insurance.  We need to work, we need to feel pride in our work, and we need to be able to support ourselves off our pay.

I know none of this will happen, and another election will come and go and nothing will change.  Nothing will get better.  Hate will still be spewed.  Angry posts will fly on F-book.  The country will sink deeper into debt, and the middle class family will still worry about how they are going to put their kids through college and pay for retirement, the poor will get poorer, and the rich will still rule the world.  I just find this whole election season to be sad and depressing.  Honestly, if I didn't have such strong beliefs that everyone should vote then I probably would just stay home let this election pass.  I see no good outcome here with either candidate. . . .

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Parent fail. . . . .

I don't know if everyone has those "I have to be the worst parent in the world" moments, but I know I do and today I had several of those moments.

I have four very bright, independent kids.  They are who they are.  All four can be demanding at times.  Today was just one of those days where you put them to bed and think, "Dang, maybe I should just give them all up for adoption because they sure would be better off."

First, I made Gabe cry.  Man does that make me feel like crap.  He needed to answer one question, Describe why you want to go to Buffalo Wild Wings.  He was writing a report where he had to say how he could try to get his parents to do something he wanted them to do.  He wanted to go to BWW - so he had to write down why he wanted to.  He stared at this screen on the computer for an hour and never typed anything.  I told him to tell me what he wanted to say and I would type it.  We sat here for another 20 minutes and he still couldn't answer it.   I got angry.  Wasn't a hard question.  I yelled at him and he cried.  Felt like total crap.

Fast forward to the teacher conferences tonight.  It was for the twins, and it wasn't like a one on one conference, it was an entire class conference where the teacher discussed what was going on for the year and what was expected for the children.  Note after note came home stating "Please leave your kids at home" and also saying that if the kids come they "have to be quiet and color."  We really had no place to take them.  Initially we were going to pay Gabe to babysit them, but Gabe was in such a bad mood after the days homework that I knew that wasn't going to be a good thing so they had to come.  The conference started at 6pm and was to last to 7pm.  I don't know about anyone else but we normally eat at 6pm.  The kids rely on it.  We try to keep as close to our schedule as possible.  Evelyn had girl scouts so I knew I wasn't going to be able to make a real meal before hand, so I gave the twins each half a PBand J - figured that would tide them over.

We got to the school about 10 minutes early.  Nick took Ellie and I took Lucy.  Lucy was very excited and helped the teacher hand papers out.  She sat down and started coloring.  By the time the conference started Lucy was done coloring.  I knew that was a bad thing.  It was dinner time, she was bored, and she had an audience (something she loves!)  The teacher started talking and Lucy jumped up and immediatly gave her teacher a hug.  That I can deal with.  I whisper to Lucy, "You have to sit down and color, remember what your teacher said."  She nodded and then started yelling to a child on the other side of the room.  She then took a drink of water and let out a huge belch.  I whispered to her, "Lucy, you have to sit down and be quiet".  She looked around and saw her audience looking at her and turned to me and yelled, "NO!"  I then whispered in her ear that if she didn't stop being this way we would have to leave.  She turned her chair around and started trying to pull the chair into the center of the room.  I held on to the back of her chair so she could not.  At that point she jumps up and runs into the center of the room and starts making bunny ears with the projector light.  I picked her up and carried her out of the room, she is now in full opera scream.  I took her out to the hall and told her why I removed her from the room.  Somehow her ear piercing scream just got louder.  I then hauled her outside where she yelled and screamed for the next 45 minutes. 

I felt terrible.  Normally I don't care what people think of me, but the last few times I had spoken with her teacher I got the distinct impression that this teacher thought I was a terrible mom.  She honestly treats me like I am ignorant (and maybe I am when it comes to parenting.)  Add to that the fact that we live in Stepford, all the people you see have beautiful bodies, are perfect looking, and exude that they and their children are perfect.  These kids are all "yes sir" when their parents are around, and then tossing food and calling people terrible names when their parents aren't around.  So there I was, five minutes into the conference I pick up my daughter and haul her out of the room screaming.  I couldn't let her continue to misbehave like that and be disruptive.  I just feel like a horrible parent.  My child was the one who didn't listen and misbehaved.  The teacher scowled at me as I hauled her out.

Today is just one of those nights that I will go to bed and pray to God that I can somehow be a better parent.  Where did I fail as a parent?  I try to do what is right for my kids.  I give them rules that matter and let the things that don't matter go.  I tell them what is expected of them and I do my best to give them everything they need (mind you, they may not get what they want but they always have what they need.)  I just don't know.  I made my son cry.  I have a five year old that refuses to listen to me - ever - so I end up having to put her in the corner way more than I would like - or- like tonight - have to physically remove her from places because she is misbehaving. 

Hopefully tomorrow will be a better day and I can be a better parent. . . .